[Protest of NASA Contract Award]

B-206364: Aug 23, 1982

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A firm protested the award of a contract which was set aside for small business concerns. The protester contended that: (1) the awardee's proposal was evaluated improperly with respect to corporate experience and other factors of the evaluation criteria; (2) both firms' cost proposals were evaluated improperly; and (3) the contracting agency misunderstood its proposed award fee structure. The protester also requested reimbursement for the cost of preparing its proposal. The protester and the awardee were the only firms that responded to the request for proposals (RFP). The awardee received a higher technical score than the protester and had a lower evaluated cost. However, the awardee had no corporate experience. The protester therefore contended that the awardee's proposal was impossible to evaluate as to corporate experience and other factors. Because of this lack of corporate experience, the contracting agency found the protester to be superior under that evaluation factor. However, GAO agreed with the contracting agency that the other factors mentioned in the protest were not impossible to evaluate and that the RFP did not require a particular level of corporate experience or performance. Contracting officers have the discretion to trade off among evaluation factors as long as that trade-off is reasonable and consistent with the overall evaluation scheme. A review of the evaluation documents showed that the agency was neither unreasonable in its selection of the awardee nor in its cost analysis. GAO saw no basis to object to the awardee's cost adjustment. In addition, GAO found that the protester provided no basis to question the agency's analysis of its award fee schedule. Accordingly, the protest and the claim for proposal preparation costs were denied.

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